The hostile Stadio Luigi Ferraris will host an Inter team looking to continue its title pursuit on Saturday night. Inter are joint top with Genoa’s arch rivals, Sampdoria, on 16 points, whilst Genoa themselves lie in 5th place on 13 points. A win for the Rossoblu would see them level with Inter and in turn help their city rivals perhaps go top. Inter will be in no mood to allow this to happen, a defeat away at Sampdoria had knocked Mourinho’s men back in their surge for the Scudetto but they soon got themselves back on track – grabbing a late winner against Udinese under the lights of the Giuseppe Meazza. Along with Chievo, it was Udinese who put Genoa to the sword recently, before a good away win at Bologna has given them a chance to put the season back on track and offered Gian Piero Gasperini’s men some hope of regaining the early promise shown in the first few games.
No matter in which league you play, the International break is often seen as nothing more than an unwanted distraction – either cutting into a run of form or leaving you with injured players. For Genoa, no injuries, as yet, have been declared and the win against Bologna, although interrupted by the break, must still act as a spring board to rekindle dreams of a Champions League spot. The line-up will very similar to that which beat Bologna before the break – Genoa however, will welcome back Ivan Juric and Marco Rossi, which will no doubt be a big boost for the team. Marco Amelia will start between the posts, whilst the back three will likely remain unchanged. Giandomenico Mesto maybe replaced by Rossi and Jurcic will be ready to make the bench. The big question is whether Hernan Crespo will replace Raffaele Palladino, Sergio Floccari or Guiseppe Sculli, in order to face is former employees.
24 Moretti – 26 Bocchetti – 16 Esposito
77 Milanetto – 5 Kharja – 23 Modesto – 7 Rossi
9 Crespo – 10 Palladino – 14 Sculli
Diego Milito and Thiago Motta will both miss-out on what would have been an emotional home coming, due to injury. The duo, no doubt, will have been itching to play in this game as much as Hernan Crespo is relishing playing against his former teammates. This leaves a chance for moody striker Mario Balotelli to deputise and he will hope secure his first-team place in the squad. The Nerazzurri starlet has shown flashes of brilliance but has failed to hold down a starting place due to former-team mate, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, playing up front on his own, followed by the devastating new partnership of Samuel Eto and Diego Milito. His chance will now finally arrive and he will have to do everything possible to fulfil his endless potential. Motta’s absence will see Sulley Muntari continue on the left as he did against Udinese, whilst Marco Materazzi has been declared fit to play and will hope to make the bench.
25 Samuel – 6 Lucio – 26 Chivu – 13 Maicon
5 Stankovic – 10 Sneijder – 11 Muntari – 4 Zanetti
9 Eto – 45 Balotelli
This top-of-the-table clash could prove to be one of the games of the weekend, Jose Mourinho’s men will not want to leave this game as close to the wire as they did when hosting Udinese. Having already lost in Genoa this term, to Sampdoria, Inter will be on their guard to make sure a repeat performance does not envelop them. Striking options have changed but this does not mean they are not as potent, although they should be guarded against a venomous Crespo, who is out to make a point against his former team. Genoa will be hoping he can do just that and, having claimed scalps of the likes of Roma already this term, they will not be intimidated by the Special One’s array of super-stars. Caution should be taken as Inter have not been on form yet this year, apart from the Milan derby, but have still been winning, Gian Piero Gasperini will not want to end the game Il vecchio balordo.
Genoa vs. Inter Milan, 7 March, 2009